Skip to comments.U.S. Navy Sub To Fire Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile Years After They Left The Force
Posted on 07/12/2018 7:16:11 AM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
As part of the many unique evolutions during the Navy's giant, biannual, multi-national naval exercise known as Rim Of The Pacific or RIMPAC, a U.S. Navy nuclear fast attack submarine will be fire a live UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile at a target in the waters off of Hawaii. What's interesting is that Harpoon missiles were stripped from American submarines over 20 years ago, but the standoff range and flexibility that anti-ship missiles provide are once again becoming in-demand capability for America's submarine force and its surface fleet as well.
The U.S. Navy posted shots of a UGM-84 being loaded onto the Los Angeles class fast attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN-717), but no additional information was given beyond the fact that it would be used for a live-fire exercise during RIMPAC. Olympia is the second oldest submarine in the Navy's fast attack fleet, having been commissioned in 1984.
An UGM-84 is loaded into Olympia's torpedo room before heading out on RIMPAC maneuvers.
Today, U.S. Navy submarines rely on their torpedoes alone for anti-ship warfare, but there has been some talk of the Harpoon returning to the torpedo tubes of America's SSNs. Yet a clear plan to do so has not been put in placeat least as far as we know. The Block IV Tomahawk cruise missile has a secondary anti-ship capability though, which could negate the need for the much shorter-ranged (about 90 miles versus 900 miles) and less flexible Harpoon to be reintegrated into America's subsurface arsenal.
The Navy is also working on classified submarine-launched anti-ship missile systems that are far more exotic in nature than the Harpoon or the latest iteration of the Tomahawk. It's possible that this test is related to such a program and uses a Harpoon as a surrogate weapon to evaluate a particular tactical scenario. We also don't know the exact configuration of the Harpoon being used in the test but UGM-84D models are known to be compatible with the Los Angeles class.
It's also worth mentioning that surface and air-launched versions of the Harpoon still serve in the U.S. military and in dozens of militaries around the globe. But the Navy is slowly stepping away from the four-decade-old design and working on fielding stealthier and smarter anti-ship missiles types.
We will probably find out more about this particular part of the exercise after it occurs as live-fire portions of RIMPAC often get a big public affairs boost. This is particularly so if the weapon in question is being used as part of SINKEX drill where retired a Navy ship will be pummeled with various munitions until it succumbs to the sea.
Regardless, this is yet another sign that after decades of hibernation, the Pentagon is taking a whole new interest in anti-ship missiles as a result of a new era of anti-access and area-denial warfare riding peer-state competition on the high seas.
We'll let you know when we find out more information.
Loose lips and all that.
Up dated with more computing power they could be a welcome addition to the arsenal.
A short term fix to a real or perceived missile disadvantage to the ChiComs?
Anybody up to knowledge on what the Russkies/ChiComs are doing with the Sizzler and Sunburn missiles?
Never understood why they took off this ability without a replacement.
Though I admit that one looks a bit bigger then the type we had on the FFG - likely due to additional casing required to put it in the tube and launch from depth.
I suppose there is only so much space and they wanted to pack in something else - just not sure what that was.
When Tactical Tomahawks and their 900 NM range are on board Harpoons don’t add many options for the space limitations on board.
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